Mayo Clinic Health Library

Slide show: Breast-feeding positions

Updated: 04-10-2012

Breast-feeding: Cross-cradle hold

Breast-feeding illustration showing cross-cradle hold

Breast-feeding can be awkward at first. Experiment with various positions until you feel comfortable.

The cross-cradle hold is ideal for early breast-feeding. Sit up straight in a comfortable chair with armrests. Bring your baby across the front of your body, tummy to tummy. Hold your baby in the crook of the arm opposite the breast you're feeding from — left arm for right breast, right arm for left. Support the back of the baby's head with your open hand. With the other hand, support your breast from the underside in a U-shaped hold. Guide the baby's mouth to your breast. Don't bend over or lean forward. Instead, cradle your baby close to your breast.

Breast-feeding: Cradle hold

Illustration of woman breast-feeding with cradle hold

The cradle hold is similar to the cross-cradle hold, but you support the baby with the arm on the same side as the nursing breast, rather than the opposite arm. As with the cross-cradle hold, sit up straight — preferably in a chair with armrests. Cradle your baby in an arm, with your baby's head resting comfortably in the crook of your elbow while he or she faces your breast. For extra support, place a pillow on your lap.

Breast-feeding: Football hold

Illustration of woman breast-feeding with football hold

Another option is the football hold. This position might be a good choice if you're recovering from a C-section or you have large breasts.

Hold your baby at your side, with your elbow bent. With your open hand, support your baby's head and face him or her toward your breast. Your baby's back will rest on your forearm. It might help to support your breast in a C-shaped hold with your other hand. For comfort, put a pillow on your lap and use a chair with broad, low arms.

Breast-feeding: Side-lying hold

Illustration of woman breast-feeding with side-lying hold

A lying position might be a good choice when you're tired — although it's important to return the baby to his or her own bed to sleep.

Lie on your side and face your baby toward your breast, supporting him or her with one hand. With the other hand, grasp your breast and touch your nipple to your baby's lips. Once your baby latches on, use one arm to support your own head and the other to help support the baby.

Breast-feeding: Football hold for twins

Illustration of woman breast-feeding twins with football hold

If you have twins, you might choose to breast-feed them separately. If you'd rather breast-feed them at the same time, try the football hold — with one baby in each arm.

Hold each baby at one side, with your elbows bent. Your baby's backs will rest on your forearms. For comfort, put pillows on your lap and use a chair with broad, low arms.

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